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Swine flu boosts drug maker profits

A pharmacist displays a box of the antiviral drug Tamiflu in Taipei, a medication reported to be effective in treating cases of swine flu -- April 27, 2009

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Governments around the globe are working to find and contain pockets of swine flu. In Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, this is suspected in more than 100 deaths. Spain is the latest country to confirm a case this morning. Fears of a potential pandemic are bringing down stock markets around the world today but two big pharmaceutical companies are getting a boost from the news. From London, Christopher Werth has more.


Christopher Werth: Shares in Switzerland's leading drug maker, Roche, are up nearly 4 percent this morning. The company says it's scaling up production of Tamiflu. The drug's been show to be an effective vaccine against the virus.

In the U.K., GlaxoSmithKline, which manufacturers its own vaccine against deadly flu viruses, is also gaining in the markets. Glaxo's drug is called Relenza. This morning, Britain's public health agency said the U.K. should also expect it to see swine flu cases develop.

Both drug makers have been approached by the World Health Organization about their readiness to deploy stocks in the case of a pandemic. Roche says it stands ready with 3 million treatments, but warned further production could take up to eight months.

Commercial impact for the drug makers could be muted as many countries have already developed stockpiles for earlier threats of avian flu.

In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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